The artists selected for inclusion in Artship Olympia were chosen based on the consistency of their vision with the goals of the exhibition. Five artists/artist teams were invited to participate based on their prior bodies of work. Ten additional artists were selected by a jury consisting of: Craig Bruns (Chief Curator, Independence Seaport Museum), Jesse Lebovics (formerly the Director of Historic Ships, Independence Seaport Museum), Pepón Osorio (Community and Installation Artist and Professor, Tyler School of Art), and Sara Reisman (Curator and Artistic Director, The Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation).
Splendid Little War
Lost Loves / Love Lost
It is a well-worn aphorism, alternately attributed to Winston Churchill and Walter Benjamin, that History is written by the victors. But here, the question of attribution raises still more questions about the meaning and veracity of historical records. Historically designated sights like the USS Olympia, for all of the detail and rich narrative they contain, illuminate just a slice of the historical record. Hironaka and Suib are interested in reanimating or re-visioning these histories by looking at the real-world events that fell outside of the Historic Record, and reconsidering the meaning of a historical site in our contemporary context.
As a key player in the United States’ first military effort to project power overseas, Olympia led Hironaka and Suib to explore the Spanish-American and Philippine-American Wars, in which she was involved around the turn of the 20th Century. From today’s vantage point, they trace the expansion and contraction of the American Empire that began on board this ship and others in the U.S. Navy fleets of that era. Their work in Artship Olympia uses media and motifs from the late 1800’s to encourage a critical dialogue between viewers and the institutional narrative presented on board the historical war ship.
A Splendid Little War comprises a pair of large-scale projections on the hull of Olympia, graphically framed by the words of John Hay (U.S. Secretary of State during the Spanish-American and Philippine-American Wars) and Thomas Edison, who produced some of the very first documentation of war in motion pictures in Cuba and the Philippines. These ghostly moving images, projected onto Olympia and considered in today’s historical moment, point towards a uniquely American obsession with military power that persists to this day.
A second work, Lost Loves / Love Lost, located inside the ship, uses a pre-cinematic special effect called a Pepper’s Ghost to envision a grouping of what could be a sailor’s most cherished possession––a silver locket––inside of his living quarters. In place of the weathered photo of a sailor’s sweetheart that one might expect, these lockets picture a chronology of regional, national and international figures that the United States has alternately fought for, with, and against, as the tides of American political, economic and military interests have shifted over more than a century. This chronology charts a century-long arc of the American Empire and its casualties from Filipino revolutionary Emilio Aguinaldo to Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
About the Artist
Nadia Hironaka & Matthew Suib have worked as artistic collaborators since 2008. They are the 2015 recipients of a prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship, and have also received a 2015 CFEVA Fellowship. Their collaborative projects have been exhibited in museums, galleries and film festivals worldwide. Their body of work, Mirrors, Marks and Loops was displayed to critical acclaim at Locks Gallery in Philadelphia in 2014. A large-scale moving mural made in partnership with Mural Arts also debuted 2014.
Nadia Hironaka received her Masters of Fine Art from The Art Institute of Chicago and her Bachelors of Fine Art from The University of the Arts. Currently she resides in Philadelphia and is a professor at The Maryland Institute College of Art. She was a 2008 Pennsylvania Council on the Arts fellow and received a Pew Fellowship in the Arts in 2006. Other awards include: The Leeway Foundation, Peter Stuyvessant Fish Award in Media Arts, prog:me video artist award, The Black Maria Film Festival, and The New York Short Exposition Film Festival. Her films and video installations have been exhibited internationally in: PULSAR (Venezuela), Rencontres Internationals (Paris/Berlin), The Den Haag Film and Video Festival (The Netherlands), The Center for Contemporary Arts (Kitakyushu, Japan), The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Morris Gallery, The Black Maria Film Festival, The Donnell Library (NYC), The Fabric Workshop and Museum (Philadelphia), The Institute of Contemporary Art (Philadelphia), The Galleries at Moore College of Art (Philadelphia), and Vox Populi, (Philadelphia). Hironaka’s second solo museum exhibtion The Late Show was presented at Arizona State University Art Museum.
Philadelphia-based artist Matthew Suib has exhibited installations, video/sound works and photographs internationally at venues including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Kunstwerke Berlin, Mercer Union (Toronto), The Corcoran Gallery of Art (D.C.) and PS1 Contemporary Art Center (NYC), The Institute of Contemporary Art (Philadelphia), and the 2007 Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art. His 2006 project Purified By Fire has been commissioned for exhibition in Miami, Chicago, Toronto and Paris. In 2011, Suib was awarded a Pew Fellowship in the Arts. He was awarded a Pew Fellowship in the Arts in 2011 and was a Pennsylvania Council on the Arts fellow in 2005. Matthew was also a former member of the esteemed Philadelphia artist collective Vox Populi.
In 2007, as an extension of their artistic practice, Hironaka & Suib founded Screening (www.screeningvideo.org). Philadelphia’s first gallery dedicated to the presentation of innovative and challenging works on video and film, Screening is a project devoted to expanding access to these media and exploring the influence of moving image culture on our understanding and experience of the world. Screening’s program has included solo exhibitions of work by internationally renowned artists including Johan Grimonprez, Takeshi Murata, Adam Putnam, Mark Lewis, Kelly Richardson, Mungo Thomson, Lars Laumann and others.
Web site: http://www.hironakasuib.com
Video/Fiber Installation: Elizabeth Mackie
Sound Installation: Kaitlyn Paston
Why is the ocean referred to as “she?” It is thought that this reference came from sailors missing their women. Yet, this association of female imagery with the sea has a much longer history. In Greek and Roman mythology, dangerous but beautiful Sirens and Greek and Roman sea deities lured mariners with their enchantments. Mermaids appear in British folklore as unlucky omens and Phoenician and Egyptian tales portrayed female gods helping or hindering humans in their struggles with the sea. SHE-SEA follows this tradition and takes this powerful influence over a sailor’s world, the sea, as a metaphor for the women in his life and his fantasies and dreams. But, like the ocean, the females in his life may have contradictory qualities – beautiful but dangerous, calm but turbulent, supportive but unpredictable.
SHE-SEA recreates the fantasy world of a sailor’s dreams as he encounters the allure, mysteries and furor of the ocean. A space once lined with hammocks holding sleeping men rocking to the rhythm of the ship moving on the waves, is transformed by an installation combining video projection, sound, and draped fabric. Projected images, fused with vocal interpretations of the sounds of the sea, immerse the viewer into a different kind of sailor’s world. This sailor, living in the company of 429 men, desires a feminine presence as he looks out over the ocean, and dreams.
About the Artist
Elizabeth Mackie is an interdisciplinary artist working in book arts, installations, sculpture, photography, video, and sound. Her works addresses issues of the interface between science and art, interpretations of history, literature and tales as metaphors, and concepts of beauty and personal identity.
She has been awarded fellowships including: 2012 Individual Artist Fellowship in Photography, New Jersey State Council on the Arts; numerous residency awards from Women’s Studio Workshop; Center for New Media, Frankfurt, Germany; Mid-Atlantic Regional Media Arts Fellowship; Center for Technology Studies, NJ Institute of Technology; and Mid-Atlantic Media Artist Fellowship. She received grants from the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation; National Science Foundation; three awards from Philadelphia Sculptors; and Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. Elizabeth’s independent video productions have been screened internationally, broadcast nationally and purchased by WHYY, Philadelphia. Her productions have received awards from The 10th Annual Philadelphia International Film and Video Festival; Dance on Camera, NYC; Women in the Directors Chair, Chicago; International Film and TV festival of NY, TV Programs; and Herland III Film and Video Festival, NY.
Elizabeth has exhibited her work in various institutions throughout the United States and abroad, including Australia, England, Canada and Germany. Recent and upcoming exhibitions include: Fiberart International 2016, IAPMA (The International Association of Hand Papermakers and Paper Artists), Complesso San Benedetto, the Museum of Paper and Watermark, Fabriano, Italy; Personal Histories– International Artist Book Exhibition, Redland Museum, Australia; WARP AND WOOF, Solo, Next Gallery, NJ; Catagenesis, Globe Dye Works, Philadelphia; Sculptural and Artist Books, Fitzroy, Melbourne, Australia; Global Warming at the Icebox, Crane Arts Building, Philadelphia; Art in the Open, Philadelphia; Women’s Work, Ann Street Gallery, Newburgh, NY; Sculpture, PPG Wintergarden, Pittsburgh; and State of the Art, A Mid-Atlantic Overview, Arlington Art Center, Arlington, VA. She was just published in Paper Art, 261 International Artists, IAPMA, Germany and 500 Paper Objects, Lark/Sterling publishers.
Web site: http://www.elizabethmackie.com
Arc of Renewal
“Art is a form of nourishment (of consciousness, the spirit)” - Susan Sontag
The image of an electrical arc forming a luminous bridge over the gap between two electrodes can also relate to the concept of spiritual energy. Arc of Renewal seeks to form a spiritual and/or emotional bridge, between prayer, art, and remembrance that will elicit an emotional call and response between the viewer and the installation.
Cruiser Olympia has been on exhibit at the Independence Seaport Museum since 1996. The location in the bow of the ship chosen for Arc of Renewal was established as a chapel in the 1950’s, long after Olympia was decommissioned in 1922. During Olympia’s active career, sailors made use of any available quiet spaces for prayer and reflection. Although not originally identified in this way, this isolated space may actually have provided such a sanctuary.
Working with the understanding that spaces designated as sacred gain their power with use, Sampson uses art to create objects of power and remembrance. Their placement within this alcove may yet return spiritual energy to this space. He defines spirituality as the expansion or evolution of consciousness towards the eventual goal of perfect wholeness. In order to make a space “sacred,” he invokes his theory of spiritual restoration and renewal. “Intention” is to focus on the physical space where the spiritual work will be done. “Practice” is repeatedly returning to the space and renewing it, feeding it, and nurturing it with a spiritual outreach. By combining these two elements, Sampson reimagines a new “chapel” using “mystical vessels and objects of power” that will create a call and response between the space, its history and the new art objects.
About the Artist
Kevin Sampson was raised in Elizabeth, New Jersey as the son of a civil rights leader. Though continually artistic growing up, he initially trained and joined the New Jersey police force, applying his creativity with work as a sketch artist. He served as an officer of the law for 18 years, 10 with police sketching. A series of family tragedies eventually caused him to fully turn to the artistic profession.
After leaving the police force, he taught at the Newark School of Fine and Industrial Art for 16 years and has continued to teach at various art schools and community programs, including serving as the head art teacher at the Ironbound Community Center in Newark for over 12 years. . He has continued his own education through courses at Lincoln University (PA) and the Parson School of Design (NY).
Working in both 2D and 3D, Sampson focuses on content that reflects his social, racial, religious and political views. His 3D work is made of reworked and transformed found objects including cement, bones, tiles, fabric and various painting mediums including acrylics, oils and stains. He sees the bones, tiles, tiny specks and leftovers from day-to-day living, as specters that are a part of the conceptual vocabulary of impermanence and memory.
His subjects are the people that he has known; people who had been part of this world; and people who have lived lives that he thought ought to be remembered. By constructing vessels of physical memory inspired by Caribbean and American Southern styles, he builds works that are about family in all forms. They are both political and intimate, frightening and freeing.
Sampson is a recipient of the Joan Mitchell Foundation Award for Art and has received the Maria Walsh Sharp Foundation residency. His work is in the collection of the American Folk Art Museum and he has been an artist-in-residence at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City. He continues his strong community commitment through projects such as the City of Newark’s “City Mural Program.” He is represented by the Cavin-Morris Gallery in New York City.
Indexing an Imperialism: From Ideologies to Imports
With a focus on food and raw building materials from the Philippines imported to the United States, Indexing an Imperialism: From Ideologies to Imports, consists of a group of sculpted products carved from popular eucalyptus wood and sewn from abaca fibers, by Mary Mattingly and a Filipino artisan (who would rather be called Paul). Meeting in the middle, they sent objects back and forth by boat over the course of six months in order to created a sculpted index of products from the Philippines that are important in the United States. Coconut and sugar cane feature broadly.
In an installation that encompasses the Bakery and the Crew Library, the artistic collaborators created and curated a selection of books, unreadable except for the spines, that evoke the knowledge industry concerning U.S. colonial expansion and imperialism in the Pacific, beginning after the U.S. defeat of the Spanish in the Battle of Manila Bay in 1898. Filled with titles that implicate the United States, these (mostly) nonfiction volumes are but a small fraction of the books that exist on the subject. In the Bakery you will find replicas of foodstuff for sale: coconut oil, water, and sugar, as well as a sample of popular baked goods.
With family from the Philippines, and having spent a significant amount of time in Manila through the smARTpower Project (US Department of State, the Bronx Museum of the Arts, and Green Papaya Art Projects), this work is both personal and political for the artist.
About the Artist
Mary Mattingly creates sculptural ecosystems in urban spaces. She is currently working on a floating food forest for New York called Swale and recently completed a two-part sculpture Pull for the International Havana Biennial with the Museo National de Belles Artes de la Habana and the Bronx Museum of the Arts. Mary Mattingly’s work has been exhibited at the International Center of Photography, the Seoul Art Center, the Brooklyn Museum, the New York Public Library, deCordova Museum and Sculpture Park, and the Palais de Tokyo. With the U.S. Department of State and Bronx Museum of the Arts she participated in the smARTpower project, traveling to Manila. In 2009 Mattingly founded the Waterpod Project, a barge-based public space and self-sufficient habitat that hosted over 200,000 visitors in New York. In 2014, an artist residency on the water called WetLand launched in Philadelphia. It is being utilized by UPenn’s Environmental Humanities program. She also recently installed a partially underwater bridge in Des Moines. She has been awarded grants and fellowships from the James L. Knight Foundation, Eyebeam Center for Art and Technology, Yale University School of Art, the Harpo Foundation, NYFA, the Jerome Foundation, and the Art Matters Foundation. Her work has been featured in Aperture Magazine, Art in America, Artforum, Art+Auction, Art News, Sculpture Magazine, China Business News, The New York Times, New York Magazine, Financial Times, Le Monde Magazine, Metropolis Magazine, New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal, the Brooklyn Rail, the Village Voice, and on BBC News, MSNBC, Fox News, News 12, NPR, WNBC, New York 1, and on Art21’s New York Close Up series. Her work has been included in books such as the Whitechapel/MIT Press Documents of Contemporary Art series titled “Nature” and edited by Jeffrey Kastner, Triple Canopy’s Speculations, the Future Isâ€¦ published by Artbook, and Henry Sayer’s A World of Art, 8th edition, published by Pearson Education Inc.
Web site: http://www.marymattingly.com
Laid Up in Ordinary
This work explores the fleeting nature of memory, the fragments picked up over a lifetime, and the haunting stories of those long departed that continue to resonate in present time. The installation is located in the Sick Bay because it was a place of solitude, a place where mortality was confronted, and a place of shadows, with only traces remaining of its past inhabitants.
Several very different light forms and technologies (both contemporary and archaic) are used to integrate images with light. Ghostly and open to interpretation, this is a memorial to lost sailors, past, current and future, in homage to the hazy memory of war.
Illumination within the Sick Bay, subdued already, is closely controlled in level and nature in order to provide an effective environment for the added components. Three ships, including Olympia, that had been present at the Battle of Manila Bay, are cast in clear resin and set atop a transparent sea surface embedded in the bathtub (in several layers). A liquid light of video imagery is projected onto/into the surface of this “sea,” while the resin boats glow with precise light that isolates, defines and highlights their ethereal nature. In the far room, beyond the sea battle in microcosm, standing transparent panels bear fading images of sailors who served on Olympia during the Battle of Manila Bay.
About the Artist
Joanna Platt is a Philadelphia based sculptor whose work deals with the ways our interaction with technology has created new configurations of defined space inside our computers and media devices. She received her BFA from Mason Gross School of the Arts, New Brunswick, NJ and her MFA from the University of the Arts, Philadelphia, PA.
A member of the gallery collective Tiger Strikes Asteroid, exhibits of Joanna’s work have included Galeria Nacional, San Jose, Costa Rica, SoHo 20, NY, NY, Rosenwald-Wolf Gallery, Philadelphia, PA, Grizzly Grizzly, Philadelphia, PA, Tiger Strikes Asteroid, Philadelphia PA, The Hunterdon Museum of Art, Clinton NJ, Sloss and Kohler Arts Center, Sheboygan, WI. Her most recent work has been included in Artist Run at the Satellite Art Fair in Miami.
She is currently employed as a sculpture technician at Independent Casting, Philadelphia, PA and an adjunct instructor at Camden County College, Blackwood, NJ.
Nathan’s career inspiration is Flight Lieutenant Robert Hendley, and he hence considers himself a Scrounger, rather than either an artist or a businessman. He has had several careers, all successfully based around being reasonably competent and extremely curious in technical matters. First, as a cameraman, then producer/director, messing about with the hardware (and abusing the chemistry) of filmmaking in LA and NYC. In 1993, he convinced 20 talented friends to live on bean soup for three months to develop the first interactive web narrative (called Root). The later work of this group for Word (an on-line magazine) is now included in the permanent collection of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Nathan moved into games in 1999, with a specialization in groundbreaking business models in customer-facing technologies, initially as VP of Business Development at Electronics Boutique, and co-founding a funded business in 3D-asset integration, called Gameflood in New Orleans. He is currently the president of the Philadelphia Game Lab and a principal in Art + Alchemy, focusing on collaborations with industry and academics in development of innovative creative technology.
W ZD (Stranger Wishes to Communicate)
This project explores the gap between 19th and 21st century forms of distance communication and intends to link the Olympia to Spruce Street Harbor Park through a series of short and highly visible encoded messages. The International Code of Signals communication manual, whose 1917 edition would have been used by the crew of Olympia, describes numerous three- and four-symbol combinations of nautical signal flags used to transmit messages between ships in the days before reliable radio communication, and on occasions when silence was essential. It is difficult to scan the columns of the codebook and not see the three-letter messages as ancestors of today’s text messaging shorthand (LOL, IDK, etc.) In his memoir of the Spanish American War, Three Years Behind the Guns, Lieu Tisdale expressed his fascination with Olympia’s signal flags, claiming he would write a “descriptive poem” with them (205). Poet Hannah Weiner, in her writing and performances, realized his idea that signal flags could be the basis for poetry nearly three quarters of a century later. The message encoded on the banners contains fragment of letters from sailors and soldiers and reflections on the war.
About the Artist
Gerard Brown is a writer and painter interested in the intersection between words and images. His paintings and prints and works in digital media have been exhibited at regional and national venues, including Rowan University Art Gallery and the Woodmere Art Museum. From 1995 to 2002, he contributed art writing to the Philadelphia Weekly and other regional publications, and his essays have appeared in catalogs and exhibition brochures published by the Pew Fellowships for the Arts, The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and numerous commercial galleries. He also wrote a chapter on the uses of contemporary art in the discussion of history for the anthology Remixing the Civil War: Meditations on the Sesquicentennial published by Johns Hopkins University press. He has curated exhibits for the Philadelphia Art Alliance, the Galleries at Moore College of Art & Design, the Center for Art in Wood in Philadelphia, and others. He is currently Associate Professor and Chairperson of Foundations at Tyler School of Art.
Hissed Between Blue Teeth
Hissed Between Blue Teeth honors sailors’ resourcefulness in enhancing their lives under all circumstances – even under the pressures of war. In exploring the ways in which sailors “made-do” in order to build full lives aboard Olympia, several creative means that they used to beautify and humanize their lives were identified. Among them were tattooing, sewing, carving, and marlinspike work. Superstitions, traditions, and the telling of tall tales wove the sailors’ emotional lives together. These small sculptures explore these techniques, drawing connections between embroidery and storytelling, and tattooing and sewing.
About the Artist
Sarah Kate Burgess holds an MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art with a focus in Metalsmithing. She has been a resident artist at Oregon College of Arts and Crafts, Interlochen Arts Academy, and Swim Pony’s Cross Pollination. Her work has been exhibited both nationally and internationally, at the Society of Arts and Crafts, Boston, MA; the Museum of Public Fiction in Los Angeles, CA; the Acquiro Civico, Milan Italy; the Society for Contemporary Crafts, Pittsburgh PA; and with the Opulence Project at SOFA NY. Sarah has held workshops on making jewelry from paper for the West Collection’s MAKE Series, the Philadelphia Art Alliance, and The John Michael Kohler Arts Center. In 2015 she and collaborator Jacque Liu received a grant from Asian Arts Initiative for their Pearl Street Micro-Project, Peach Blossom Spring, in which the community assembled and installed hundreds of pinwheels along the 1200 block of Pearl Street, Philadelphia.
Listen to the Whales
Listen to the Whales is an interactive experience where participants are invited to sit on cushions and use “vintage” listening devices to decode the language of the whales. Chambers rejects the 19th century scientific attempt to dominate the earth and the sea and wants interspecies relations to be more than conquest and destruction. PT Barnum’s “whale fiasco” at the American Museum in New York City was part of a long list of horrors perpetrated against these creatures. He imagine an alternate scenario where maritime resources are not for war, but instead for understanding whales and the ocean. Could we learn something from mammals so much larger than ourselves? Listen to the Whales comes out of that imagining. Who knows what we will discover?
About the Artist
Whether embodying the destruction of the home in the Obsessive Dollhouse, rethinking dreams and urban decay in Spaceship York, or asking the question “What’s missing?” in Service Station, Chambers dissects complex issues in his interactive installations. The audience becomes his partner on a journey of discovery. Humor, sleight of hand, raw emotion, and explosives are tools in his arsenal.
After 20 + years of art making and art teaching, Chambers finishes his MFA at The Massachusetts College of Art in Boston during summer 2016. He has done graduate work in painting at The School of the Museum of Fine Arts and Gage Academy. He received an M.Ed. from Antioch New England and a B.A. in Sculpture and Asia studies from Sarah Lawrence College.
Chambers exhibits his art in museums, galleries, private collections, and on street corners. During summer 2016, he is moving his studio to Worcester, MA.
The Bird Cage
Clark interprets the intimate thoughts and emotions of an officer aboard Cruiser Olympia by creating a sculptural installation built with icons of American folk art and nautical history. The artist sees the Officers Shower room as a chamber of self-confrontation and reflection, where the man is stripped bare of his masking uniform and left in a vulnerable and transparent state. This shower will become a white-walled cage, containing a group of gilded eagles that spring to life from their decorative crests and manifest the mind and spirit of the officer. With this project, Clark hopes to explore the possible struggles and internal conflicts that officers aboard the ship may have experienced while separated from their lives on land.
About the Artist
Daniel Clark is an artist and designer currently earning his BFA from the Tyler School of Art at Temple University. He has a focus on painting, but his creative process expands to many other mediums and crafts. At Temple University, he was a recipient of the 2015 Diamond Research Scholar’s Grant, which funded his first major in-depth project. This culminated with his show, This Side of Main Street, featuring a body of work that explored American nostalgic culture and its relation to expectations of masculinity. His works have received awards and commendations from The Scholastic Art and Writing Awards and Niche Magazine. In addition to artistic projects, Clark is active in furniture design, antique restoration and historic preservation, and believes that this diversity of interests is integral to his artistic practice. He spent the 2015-16 academic year in Rome and returned to the States in April to create his installation for Artship Olympia.
Using porcelain as her primary medium, Clark makes large-scale installations that play with environments and focus on memory and nostalgia for a moment or a place. Working in architectural conservation for the past three years has given her the opportunity to connect to the hidden layers and skeleton of a space and to allow their history to influence her art. Her work is about forging connections with both material and subject, uncovering the intimate moments buried beneath the surface of the public sphere. The physical properties of vitreous porcelain – at once delicate and brittle – emulate states of decay in nature, yet are built and mended by hand. She keeps her fingerprints visible and allows the clay to reveal the imperfect nature of the work as it warps, cracks, and changes. She creates moments where her porcelain installations access dimensions of both the physical and psychological landscape and find the beauty and the unrest in temporal junctures.
The installation Wrinkled Blue is about the history of a ship as a structure of naval architecture and the turbulent and poetic relationship of the sea and navigation. Impressive in volume and area, the ocean is one of the most important parts of our physical environment. To explore the sea, navigational tools from celestial navigation to instrument navigation utilizing longitude and latitude, were developed and used throughout history. Beginning with stars and clocks, and advancing to the GPS found on contemporary electronic devices, people have found means of locating themselves within their environments. Porcelain charts, maps, and historical tools will be installed in the Captain’s Office to highlight not only the history of the USS Olympia and her relationship to the sea, but also the desire to explore and locate oneself in time and place. History can be a layered sensory experience full of questions, such as how to get from here to there.
About the Artist
Jacintha Clark is a mixed-media artist interested in exploring the way we connect to the world around us by fusing materials such as iron, glass, and porcelain. Her work ranges from quiet, personal introspection, to playful, to scientific. Clark’s career in architectural restoration inspires a lot of her art. As she uncovers history in an old building she is freezing moments in time in her sculptures. Her work has been shown in numerous exhibitions, including the Woodmere Art Museum, and she is the recipient of the 38th Annual Fleisher Art Memorial Wind Challenge. Clark holds an Associates Degree in Arts from Arapahoe Community College; a BFA in Fine Arts from Metropolitan State College of Denver; a Post Baccalaureate Certificate from Maryland Institute College of Art; and an MFA from Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. She was born in Alamogordo, New Mexico and currently lives and works in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
34 – 2
In reading The Bounding Billow and Three Years Behind the Guns: The True Chronicles of A “Diddy Box,” Harper noted a paternalistic hierarchy aboard ship. In looking at historical photos taken on Olympia, she noticed the demeanor and attire of officers was very “spiffy” compared to the regular sailor. The Officers Washroom caught her attention and made her think how the officers must have paid attention to their mustaches and facial hair. Her resulting installation represents a compression of time, giving the sense of the many officers sharing the washroom, trying to look their best. Mustaches and whiskers share space with over-sized items such as a mustache wax container and personal grooming implements. Mirrored surfaces visually multiply the objects and give the sensation of a crowded room of phantom beards.
About the Artist
Cheryl Harper’s undergraduate degree is in Art History from Drew University. She holds a BFA from Temple University’s Tyler School of Art and an MFA from the University of Delaware. Her graduate studies in Art History and Museology were at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana and Temple University. An artist, curator, and educator, her large‑scale woodcuts have been included in Allentown Art Museum Biennials as well as numerous national and international juried exhibitions. She was selected for the Fleisher Challenge Series in 2008 and won first prize in sculpture in Pennsylvania’s Art of the State. Her mixed media work and works on paper are inspired by American politics and international current events and have attracted critical attention in numerous national and regional exhibitions.
For Sarah Kabot art making reveals gaps between the symbolic significance of objects, and the inert nature of the objects themselves. By creating replicas of common items and spaces she emphasizes shifts between original and reproduction. Her investigations respond to systems commonly accepted to imply “fact” but may indeed be inherently biased, including public memorials newspapers and libraries.
Kabot is currently examining the contemporary state of public memorial in light of international combat and domestic disputes regarding gun rights and gun violence. Initially, many monuments and military museums pay tribute to national power and/or function to instill communal sentiment. Over time, they can devolve into marginalized landmarks— their original meaning clouded or lost. How does this state-change reflect the ongoing vicissitudes of collective memory?
In Kabot’s most recent artworks, she creates three-dimensional replicas and carbon copy paper rubbings of these memorials, muddles their original intent. Here, the copy of a copy is an embodied double take – a tool used to compare, to weigh our assumptions and reveal the pre-existing artifice within accepted certainties—who are the heroes, the enemies and what is “right or wrong.” What begins as a faithful interpretation, chronicling the idiosyncrasies and deterioration in the aged source objects, is manipulated to overwrite and misalign assumptive truths.
For her Artship Olympia installation, Toll, Kabot used surplus carbon copy paper to make direct rubbings of the USS Olympia’s #1 five-inch gun. The rubbings imperfectly document small details on the gun’s surface- serial numbers, areas of deterioration, and components that have been carefully restored. Kabot pieced the rubbings together to create the foundation for a life-sized drawing of the weapon. The hangings presented on the ship replicate her drawing. Draped adjacent to the five-inch gun itself, they function as an embodied double take. The artwork provides an opportunity to look again at the details of the weapon, the use and significance of which has been widely neglected.
Toll presents a ghostly image of an artifact of war, the artwork’s patchwork aesthetic echoes the fragmentary nature of commemoration itself.
About the Artist
Sarah Kabot was born in Royal Oak, Michigan. Her work has been shown nationally and abroad, at institutions including The Suburban (IL), Smack Mellon (NY), the Akron Museum of Art (OH), the Museum of Contemporary Art (OH), the Drawing Center (NY), the Peabody Essex Museum (MA), Denny Gallery (NY), and Tegnerforbundet in Oslo, Norway. In 2013, she completed two large public art commissions in Ohio.
Recent honors include residencies at Dieu Donne Papermill (NY), a Swing Space residency through the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (NY), the Headlands Center for Art (CA), and UCross (WY). Her work is in the public collections of the West Collection, the Cleveland Clinic, and Progressive Insurance. Sarah has been the recipient of several grants and prizes including the 10th semi-annual Dave Bown Prize, a 2016 Creative Workforce Fellowship, and 2015 and 2010 Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Awards. Additionally, her work has appeared in Sculpture Magazine, the New York Times online, and the Village Voice.
Sarah received her BFA from the University of Michigan School of Art and Design in 1998, and her MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art in 2002. She is currently Associate Professor and Chair of the Drawing Department at the Cleveland Institute of Art in Ohio.
The men who sailed on Cruiser Olympia did so for many reasons: to serve their country, to lead other men, to travel the world, for adventure, to test their limits, to leave their past behind or simply for the thrill of being at sea, in the grip of mighty nature herself.
Members of Rattus norvegicus (brown rat), on the other hand, learned that life was easier for them if they kept close to human beings. Scavenging for food dropped, spilled, carelessly stored or discarded increased their life span. Rats rarely survive in the wild for over a year. Originating in northern China, the species of Rattus traveled throughout the world wherever men sailed. It’s quite likely that several stowed away on Olympia, hitching a secret ride inside the mountains of stores which fed the over 396 enlisted men and 33 officers.
Harmful or Helpful?
Rats are most often fearfully regarded as disease-carrying vermin. They do carry viruses, such as streptobacillosis, which can be deadly if undiagnosed, as well as other diseases. Hundreds of thousands of people died in the bubonic plague from the bite of plague-infected fleas hosted by Rattus rattus (black rat). It has been said that there are 1.3 rats for every person living in the U.K.
Paradoxically, rats play a huge part in the ongoing health of humankind. In 1906, during Olympia’s commission, the Wistar rat was developed here in Philadelphia at the University of Pennsylvania. That strain has been helpful in cancer and genetics research.
And let’s not forget the interesting and entertaining pleasures of keeping gentler rats as pets. Noted for their intelligence they can be trained as working animals, helping lay computer cable in small spaces, for example.
About the Artist
Joan Menapace works in the arena of relational aesthetics, which involves a social encounter with an artwork and others in the space. She wants the viewer to be personally involved with a work, including being able to touch and manipulate it. One form her sculpture has taken is that of non-competitive games, with the outcomes intended for individuals to learn about themselves.
After receiving her BFA, Menapace became an art educator in upper Bucks County, PA. While teaching and earning an MAH at Arcadia University (then known as Beaver College) she developed a special interest in play theory, especially relating to creativity. When humans play they are at their most creative. For almost 20 years she observed this truth on a daily basis in her classroom.
During that time Menapace founded The Day Circle Project with the composer/musician Bob Berry with whom she did installation and street performance, always with an active role for the viewer-participant. She is also a mail artist, an early user of image-editing software and home computing to create “artistamps” and postcards having commemorative or political content. Her latest work, figurative soft sculpture installation and objects using yarn, most often invites viewer participation, as does her work in Artship Olympia.
Smith’s interest in Artship Olympia is to highlight a historically overlooked, yet vital aspect of the lives of the sailors— their diet, as well as the distinction of rank and class reflected in the naval rations. While officers dined on freshly frozen meat, the common sailor subsisted on a diet high in starch— mostly of hardtack and potatoes, along with salted tinned meat. Cooked side by side in the same galley kitchen, the meals were worlds apart in terms of variety, flavor and presentation. The privileged class enjoyed personal space, privacy and fine dining while the common sailors prepared their food on the floor, slept side by side divided only by canvas, and ate off enameled metal plates. Smith’s sculptural works illuminate this contrast between the diet of the common sailors and the diet of the officers during the first Commissions of Olympia.
About the Artist
Carrie Mae Smith creates sculpture that explores marginalized histories and utilitarian forms. She is interested in traditional construction techniques and fine craftsmanship and works with materials ranging from wood and steel to panty hose and cheese-puffs. Smith has exhibited her work nationally and internationally and is a recipient of artist grants from the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund and the Ruth and Harold Chenven Foundation. She has been awarded Artist Residencies at Winterthur Museum and Gardens in Wilmington, DE, RAIR in Northeast Philadelphia, and the Vermont Studio Center. Smith completed an MFA at the University of Delaware (2013) and a Four Year Certificate from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (2005). She is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor at Indiana University in Bloomington, IN.
“…as a gun-crew we were the combined vital parts of a steel monster…” This is how Lieu Tisdale
described the men of the Olympia during the Battle of Manila Bay. The men were a group, working together in unison with each other and the ship. They were an extension of Olympia, enabling her to perform. But the 396 enlisted men on Olympia were also individuals, and to Steele, their hammocks represent this individuality. This is where they wrote letters home, slept; this is where they were, for a while, disconnected from the larger machine. She has netted Ghost Hammocks out of clear monofilament to represent the memory of each individual; a salute to one man within the steel monster.
About the Artist
Andi Steele uses monofilament line to create sculptures and large-scale installations. The translucency of the line creates an ethereal atmosphere, challenging both visual and perceptual understanding. Steele exhibits her work nationally. Recent solo exhibitions include: Amalgamation, Eleanor D. Wilson Museum, Roanoke, VA; Point, Design Box, Raleigh, NC; and Emanate, Brossman Gallery, York, PA. Group exhibitions include: ARTFIELDS, Lake City, SC; Some Abstraction Required, Spartanburg Art Museum, Spartanburg, SC; and Medium, Bernard A. Zuckerman Museum of Art, Kennesaw, GA (Dec 2017). Steele earned a BFA in Graphic Design from the University of South Carolina in 1994 and completed the Core Fellowship Program at Penland School of Crafts (1998-99). She received her MFA in Sculpture from the University of Georgia in 2004. She is currently an Associate Professor of Sculpture at the University of North Carolina Wilmington.